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Stanford Social Innovation Review | Summer 2014

The world is complex and current methods of philanthropy effect lasting change in so few corners. How do we truly begin to make a difference? Including responses from 10 industry leaders, “Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World” explores what it takes to make change in an unpredictable environment.

Top Takeaways

  1. The rigid logic model of yesterday is inflexible in the face of the interdependencies and changes of real-world environments.
  2. A shift to emergent strategy also means rethinking how foundations create strategy, structure their organization, evaluate impact, and develop leadership and culture.
  3. “System Fitness,” ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned and have mutual respect, is an essential but too often overlooked aspect of philanthropy.
If funders are to make greater progress in meeting society’s urgent challenges, they must move beyond today’s rigid and predictive model of strategy to a more nuanced model of emergent strategy that better aligns with the complex nature of social progress.

Watch the Videos

Emergent Strategy and the Rockefeller Foundation


How the Rockefeller Foundation Used Emergent Strategy to Advance Impact Investing